Birmingham City 1, Norwich City 1
Sammy Clingan gave Norwich City’s survival hopes another boost when he scored a superb equaliser to earn a point against promotion-chasing Birmingham City at St Andrew's. Clingan curled in a direct free-kick after 53 minutes for his fourth goal of the season, to the delight of around 2,000 travelling Norwich fans.
Sammy Clingan gave Norwich City's survival hopes another boost when he scored a superb equaliser to earn a point against promotion-chasing Birmingham City at St Andrew's.
Clingan curled in a direct free-kick after 53 minutes for his fourth goal of the season, to the delight of around 2,000 travelling Norwich fans.
Cameron Jerome had given Birmingham the lead after 38 minutes when he knocked the ball home from a cross by Hameur Bouazza, although it appeared goalkeeper David Marshall may have been impeded.
It could have been even better for the Canaries when debutant Alan Lee had a header cleared off the line from a Simon Lappin corner just four minutes after Clingan had equalised.
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But the Blues almost snatched the winner in stoppage time when Marshall made a vital save from a header by substitute Kevin Phillips.
The valuable draw made it 10 points from the last five games for Bryan Gunn's men and sent them into a fortnight's break in very good heart.
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City midfielder Simon Lappin made his first senior appearance for 16 months as one of three changes to the team which beat Plymouth 1-0 last week.
Lappin took the central midfield role vacated by Darel Russell, starting a two match ban after his second sending off of the season.
With Wes Hoolahan out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage, on-loan David Carney made his first start for the Canaries.
Lee Croft was the other absentee and the fact he did not figure in the 16 suggested he was struggling after a couple of knocks in recent games, which meant on-loan striker Alan Lee was also in the starting line-up after his arrival from Crystal Palace.
There was a surprise on the bench with two teenagers included in 17-year-old Tom Adeyemi and 18-year-old Korey Smith, as well defender Adam Drury, back after missing seven matches.
Birmingham made one change after their 2-0 win at Doncaster with Garry O'Connor recalled in attack in place of Keith Fahey.
There was no place for defender Martin Taylor, who played eight times for Norwich in a loan spell last season.
Norwich kicked off in bright sunshine, defending the goal behind which some 2,000 travelling fans were gathered.
They won an early throw-in close to the right corner flag and Lee got his head to Otsemobor's throw for a first touch, but Ridgewell was able to clear.
With two minutes gone, Carr conceded the first corner of the match and Clingan's kick was flicked on by Shackell for Lee to fire just over the bar, so close to his first goal for the Canaries.
A foul by Carsley on Lee then gave the Canaries a free-kick and from it, they had the ball in the net but the effort was disallowed. Clingan's kick was nodded back by Doherty and Shackell headed home, but the flag was up for offside and there were no real protests.
It was a bright start by Norwich and after Lappin won a couple of challenges, Gow flashed a shot just wide.
Norwich won another free-kick on halfway when Queudrue fouled Carney. Mooney got his head to Otsemobor's kick but keeper Taylor managed to gather it a little awkwardly on the bounce.
Lappin pushed forward and delivered a cross into the six-yard box which Taylor did well to hang on to. As Birmingham broke, Larsson tried to find Carr but the fullback rammed the ball out of play.
At the other end, Gow found Mooney which an excellent cross field pass but Mooney's centre was cut out at the near post by Taylor.
There was a delay when Ridgewell went down needing treatment and players from both sides took the opportunity for a quick drink and few instructions close to the dugouts.
A foul by Clingan on Carr gave Birmingham a free-kick just outside the area but Bouazza's kick was just out of reach of O'Connor.
A foul on Lee gave Norwich another free-kick about 30-yards out and the ball was touched to Otsemobor, but he sliced an awful shot a long way wide.
Norwich had a real opening after 18 minutes when Carney put Lee through on the right-hand side but the striker tried to cut inside onto his left foot and found his path blocked by Ridgewell.
Lappin and Mooney played a short corner routine as the visitors pressed again, but the ball was headed clear before they won their third corner of the match moments later.
Clingan took an outswinging kick but Jaidi managed to head clear.
Gow earned a ticking off from referee Haywood for a foul in front of the Birmingham dugout but the resulting free-kick came to nothing and so far, the Blues had not really threatened.
Midway through the half, Shackell did well to block a powerful effort by Bouazza and then Gow managed to dispossess Jerome as he tried to weave his way into the penalty area.
Carsley, the Birmingham captain, needed attention for a bang on the nose and for a while, the home side were down to 10 men.
Ridgewell and Taylor almost got in a muddle going for the same ball with the defender eventually hooking it clear to prevent the Canaries taking advantage.
After half an hour a cross from Carney caused problems with two Birmingham defenders going for the same ball and as it dropped to Gow beyond the far post, his shot from a narrow angle ran across the face of the goal but past the post.
The home crowd were becoming impatient and another opening was squandered when Larsson found Bowyer with a well flighted ball, but Lappin tidied up well to prevent any danger.
With nearly 35 minutes gone, Birmingham managed their first effort on target when Bouazza got his head to a cross by O'Connor but his effort was straight at Marshall.
Good work by Bertrand set up Gow for a run at goal and he weaved his way into the Birmingham area but sent a disappointing left-foot shot into the crowd.
Seven minutes before the break and rather harshly on the run of play, Birmingham took the lead through a goal by Jerome.
Bouazza crossed from the left and as Jerome challenged Marshall, the ball dropped free for the striker to tap it home. It appeared he may have impeded the keeper but the goal was given.
It was a real blow after a fairly bright half by Norwich. The had an opportunity to create something two minutes later when a foul by Carsley gave them a free-kick just outside the penalty area, but Lappin's curling left-foot shot was comfortably gathered by Taylor.
Mooney tried to make headway inside the Birmingham area but was challenged by Jaidi and the Norwich man got the last touch as the ball ran for a goal-kick.
With three minutes added on at the end of the first half, Queudrue went down after a challenge by Lee and the Birmingham man had to be restrained as he tried to exact revenge before Lee was shown a yellow card. Ridgewell protested bitterly to the referee but escaped any punishment.
Birmingham were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area when Doherty was adjudged to have fouled Jerome and while they waited to take it, Carsley was sent to the touchline again for attention to his facial injury. When play resumed, Larsson curled a free-kick over the top.
t Half-time: Birmingham City 1, Norwich City 0
The Birmingham players were out very early for the second half and indulged in a warm-up routine in the centre circle which, to the background music, almost appeared to be part of half-time entertainment.
They threatened first when Jerome got his head to a Bouazza cross but Doherty was well placed to head clear.
Bertrand almost created an opening for Mooney at the other end but the striker was closed down when he tried to turn and shoot. Then a poor clearance by Jaidi fell to Gow, but his left-foot shot was straight at Taylor.
Birmingham were awarded a free-kick on the left-hand edge of the Norwich area after Doherty and Jerome tangled and Larsson curled his kick to the far post, where Bouazza headed just wide.
A trip by Carsley on Mooney gave the Canaries their own free-kick just a few yards outside the penalty area and it produced a superb equaliser through Clingan after 53 minutes.
Lappin initially stood over the ball with Clingan but he then left it to his fellow midfielder to strike a perfect, curling right-foot shot past Taylor for his fourth goal of the season.
The equaliser put the travelling fans in very good voice and City won another free-kick just a few yards further out when Larsson was adjudged to have handled. This time, Clingan aimed for Doherty and Mooney at the far post but the ball drifted out for a goal-kick.
Otsemobor forced Queudrue to concede a corner after a neat one-two with Gow and Lappin's kick almost produced another goal when Lee got in a header which was cleared off the line by Larsson.
Birmingham were certainly a bit rattled by the goal and the home crowd began to show their impatience.
There was a scare for the hosts when a long through ball by Otsemobor caught Taylor in two minds and Ridgewell almost nodded it into the path of Gow before the keeper managed to recover and claw the ball away.
Lee then had a close-range effort deflected wide from a Bertrand cross before Gow volleyed high off target after intercepting a poor clearance.
Nearly 20 minutes into the second half, the Blues made a change when Sinclair replaced Bouazza but his first two touches were errors. First, he let a pass run under his foot for a throw-in, then he sliced a cross into the crowd.
It took Birmingham 67 minutes to win their first corner and Larsson took an inswinger from the left but Doherty managed to head clear.
Midway through the half, Phillips replaced O'Connor as Birmingham's second change and they won another corner when Ostemobor cut out a cross by Sinclair.
Larsson found Ridgewell with his flag-kick but the defender put a free header over the top and then pulled his shirt over his head in annoyance at a missed opportunity.
There were appeals for hand-ball by the Norwich crowd as Gow tried to turn onto a throw-in from Bertrand but the official was unmoved and, as the visitors continued to threaten, Gow brought Taylor into action with a well-struck volley.
There was a delay and more groans from the home crowd when Otsemobor needed treatment after taking a knock on his right knee.
When play resumed, a long throw into the Norwich area was flicked on by Jaidi but Shackell was in the right place to head clear.
Birmingham had begun to show more urgency and a free-kick by Larsson had Marshall struggling before the Canaries were able to get the ball away.
A neat move set up by Clingan and Mooney led to another corner when Gow tried to play a one-two with Carney and the ball was hacked clear.
Norwich in fact won two corners in quick succession, taken by Lappin and Clingan and although the hosts were able to deal with them, they still looked uncomfortable under pressure.
With eight minutes left, Birmingham made their final change with Murphy on for Queudrue.
Norwich were finally under some pressure and Otsemobor conceded another corner, cutting out a cross from Sinclair. Doherty got his head to Larsson's kick and the ball went out for a throw-in by the right corner flag.
With five minutes left, substitute Phillips made room for a low, right-foot shot which was diverted by Ridgewell but straight at Marshall.
The Canaries were under pressure and Marshall was shown the yellow card three minutes from time for time wasting when he went to collect the ball for a goal-kick after a cross by Sinclair had drifted out of play.
As the minutes ticked away, Otsemobor made a couple of important headed clearances and then the pressure was relieved when Norwich won a free-kick after Doherty was fouled.
In a rare Norwich attack in the final minutes, Gow tried to play Mooney through, but Carr got back to cover.
As the game went to four minutes of added time, a free-kick by Larsson produced a pinball effect in the Norwich area but Doherty was fouled in any case.
Marshall then produced an excellent save, tipping over a header from Phillips from a cross by Murphy.
t Result: Birmingham City 1, Norwich City 1
t Birmingham City: Maik Taylor, Carr, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Queudrue, Larsson, Carsley, Bowyer, Bouazza, O'Connor, Jerome.
Subs: Doyle, Murphy, Phillips, Sinclair, Fahey.
t Norwich City: Marshall, Otsemobor, Doherty, Shackell, Bertrand, Gow, Clingan, Lappin, Carney, Mooney, Lee.
Subs: Nelson, Drury, McDonald, Smith, Adeyemi.
t Referee: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire)